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Thoughts On Marriage

weather: partially cloudy
outside: 13.3°C
mood: contemplative
"What does being a 'good wife' mean to you?"

Good wife, good husband, good partner, whatever. I was recently interviewed as a part of the research phase for a book on the subject of marriage. This was not one of the interview questions, but it reminded me that someone asked me this question a long time ago. I've been collecting my thoughts and writing it all out very slowly.

孝恭遵婦道
容止順其猷

"Be gentle and respectful, as a woman should be,
Mindful of word and look, observant of good example."

These two lines from Wei Ying-wu's poem "To My Daughter, On Her Marriage Into The Yang Family" have been something of an inspiration to me.

Things I try to live by:

1. Never say anything about him to a third party that he doesn't already know.

You owe it to your partner to let them be the first to know what you're thinking about them or something that relates to them. Whether you think it's a good or bad opinion, they have the right to know before anyone else does. Anything I say to anyone about my husband, he's heard from me at least once already.

2. Never gripe about him in public.

Personally, I don't like talking about unresolved issues between the two of us to anyone else unless it's to a close family member (my parents, his mother) or close friends. I'll admit, there have been times when I've slipped up on this too... got caught up in conversation, got on a roll with the topic, didn't notice going from harmless chatter to all-out griping, etc. But my feeling is, if you can't communicate well enough together to resolve your personal drama between the two of you and keep it contained between the two of you without involving other people needlessly, you really have no business being together in the first place.

3. Laugh at his jokes, even if they're stupid.

In my mind, this doesn't include extraordinarily rude, crass, tasteless jokes, but if he told jokes that really bothered me, I wouldn't have stayed with him.

Help him make his jokes funnier so that he can tell other people and they can think he's funny. And if they're never told to anyone else, at least the two of you will have fun.

At each other, with each other, it doesn't matter. As long as you're both laughing.

4. Have the wisdom to manipulate life so that it maximizes his genuine appreciation for me. Have the wisdom to not set myself up to be The Bad Guy, so adding to the shared loving memories that will tide us over when things get rough.

5. In public with him, look neat, tidy, healthy, happy and appropriate for the occasion, appropriate for my stature and station in life.

Notice I didn't say "beautiful". =} I will never, in a bazillion years, qualify as a "trophy wife"... hell, I barely qualify to be "a wife", period. I'm not too proud to try though. It's true that how people react to a person is somewhat affected by what their spouses look like, act and how they are treated by their spouses in public.

6. Speak intelligently, give thoughtful and insightful commentary, in the company of his peers and colleagues.

Whether you like it or not, people will see the two of you as one... or at least not entirely two completely separate entities. Unless people know you both well and have interacted with each of you individually, respect for one of you will generally transfer to the other. Conversely, ill feelings towards one of you will also transfer to the other. In a hetero marriage, people have a tendency to assume that if the wife is smart, then the husband must be at least as smart, if not smarter. Whatever they think "smart" means. Whether this is an ass-backwards attitude, whether they're pigs for thinking this or not is not the point. It's about playing the game and learning to use your environment to your advantage. The world isn't going to change just because you don't like the way it is.

7. Conventional advice is that there should be 100% honesty between spouses/partners, but I also think there should be a certain amount of discretion. There are things I don't say to him and don't tell him. I'm absolutely not advocating dishonesty and deceitful behaviour though. He and I are more honest with each other than anyone else and the sugar-coating is much thinner with him. But, he's a human being just like the best of them and his emotional state is affected by negativity. I've learned what sets him off, what makes him irrationally angry and there are things that just should not be said.


This is from my point of view, but he does the same for me.

Whether I succeed at these is an entirely different story. =D

Much of this is stuff that I think I should be doing, husband or not. It just so happens that this is in the context of marriage, but I believe that if you truly love someone, you'll actually want to do your best for them or you won't mind trying even if it's hard for you.

There's tons more, but this is all I'm motivated to blather for now.

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Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
deslea
Sep. 27th, 2005 10:43 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this one. I like.
diannadinoble
Sep. 27th, 2005 11:59 am (UTC)
This is a really lovely guide to strive for and reflect on. Thanks for taking the time to type this up :)
easter
Sep. 27th, 2005 01:24 pm (UTC)
I agree with you on all of these. This is getting bookmarked!

Many times, I see couples with Livejournals starting drama or problems or ridiculousness by griping about their partners in their journals. Pete and I agreed together a long time ago that this was unfair and disrespectful. We have our share of tiffs (we never really 'fight') just like any normal couple, but they don't get dissected in front of the internet, and I don't whine or act dramatic about him not "letting" me talk about it. It's mutual. That would hurt his feelings and humiliate him (ditto if he did so to me) and that's something you don't do to a partner. I've seen people justify it as "This is my journal and I need to vent!" but in my opinion it's very selfish to put what one needs to do for themselves over the fact that a spouse or partner does not need to find out that you're pissed off by reading it along with one thousand other people, including his family, the Pope (who is now online) and anyone else who can access the internet.

Also, what I say in more private parts of LJ (although the internet is never one hundred per cent private) is always completely cleared with Pete. One of the biggest fights I ever got into on journal was when an acquaintence of his tore into me for posting personal things about Pete's life and things that affected us negatively as a couple. I was so offended that she would think I would ever do that without clearing it with Peter, who sometimes asks me himself to post things in order to get the opinions of our friends.
easter
Sep. 27th, 2005 01:26 pm (UTC)
Ah, and as far as the opinons of his colleagues: I agree. I stres sometimes that I don't have enough letters after my name to matter to these people, but I think that's my own insecurity coming out because we've both been treated with nothing but kindness here.
bride
Sep. 27th, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC)
I so hear ya. I think it's natural. No, I'm not a clingy, needy, desperate-to-be-liked kind of woman. But I stress about wanting to be liked by people I think are important people in his life because I care about HIM and therefore I care how I affect the picture of HE will be perceived. His parents, his friends, his colleagues, his boss, etc.

Some people are reasonable, some are not. Some are... very not. It's not easy. *HUGS* =|
sophia
Sep. 27th, 2005 02:12 pm (UTC)
very inspiring
razorw
Sep. 27th, 2005 06:20 pm (UTC)
Very interesting...
ducks
Sep. 27th, 2005 06:51 pm (UTC)
Very well written, and I agree wholeheartedly on all points, especially 2. Too often, I see people speak badly of, complain excessively about or insult (whether jokingly, or seriously) their spouse in front of others. We can fight till kingdom come behind close doors (and we are both guilty of sometimes saying things we do not mean when we are angry), but I would never insult, reprimand or speak condescendingly to my spouse in front of family or friends.

Anyway, I really like this post. :)
jenny_rambles
Sep. 28th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC)
Great entry. :)
I remember my mom telling me once to always act as though your husband is standing next to you - even when hes not.
bride
Sep. 28th, 2005 02:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, good one =)
rhumba
Oct. 1st, 2005 11:49 am (UTC)
I think this is wonderful advice not only for the girls but for the guys too? Don't mind me linking to this page.
bride
Oct. 1st, 2005 06:29 pm (UTC)
It is =) And I certainly don't mind at all =)
magicwoman
Oct. 26th, 2005 09:58 pm (UTC)
Great post!

And - I've seen your pictures - you're a stunner!

Susan
youtasteofaids
Feb. 24th, 2006 12:40 am (UTC)
thank you for this post. :)

I constantly sees people treating marriage as something do for their own selfish whims. If they don't get what they want immediately, they quit. They don't have room for compromise. If the other person asks things from their partner, the partner is controlling. If he asks nothing, he doesn't care. If he fucks up, tell everyone about it. If it's too hard, just get a divorce.

My parents marriage is the opposite.

I'm seventeen. I was terrified for the future of marriage. I want to get married and be married for as long as my parents (currently, thirty something years now) My parents are wonderful role models, but I didn't think the values they have for marriage (which mirror yours) could exist in today.

But now I do. :)
bride
Feb. 24th, 2006 06:07 am (UTC)
Hi there, you're very welcome =)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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